Lot 12
  • 12

Alvar Aalto 1898-1976

5,000 - 7,000 GBP
6,875 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Armchair, model no. 42

  • impressed on the underside of the runners `433'
curly birch and birch veneered plywood


Architecture and Furniture: Aalto, exhibition catalogue, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1938, p. 27
Alvar Aalto Furniture, Cambridge, MA, 1985, pp. 76126
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, 1000 Chairs, Cologne, 2000, p. 217,222
Pirkko Tuukkanen, ed., Alvar Aalto Designer, Helsinki, 2002, pp. 70, 74, 79 and 83
Doug Ngo and Eric Pfeiffer, Bent Ply:  The Art of Plywood Furniture, New York, 2003, p.33
Hatje Cantz, Alvar & Aino Aalto. Design, Bonn, 2005, pp. 29 (for a design drawing of the model) 43,45-47

Catalogue Note

The 'bent knee' joint introduced by Alvar Aalto in 1929 was a radical innovation that allowed the designer to attain a 90 degree bend with a single board and work with the endless possibilities he saw in furniture made from his native birch.  By applying thin pieces of wood into a cross section of a larger board, Aalto was able to convert designs which he had previously only been able to execute in tubular metal.  The freedom of this design element allowed Aalto to work almost exclusively in birch, which aesthetically complemented his ideal of harmony of nature, function and design.


In 1932, Aalto began to attain international recognition via a series of exhibitions and commissions.  The Paimio Sanatorium in southwest Finland was a platform for introduction of his iconic cantilevered armchairs which were presented within the scheme of the interior in 1932.  Both the model 41(known as the 'Paimio' chair) and the model 42 chairs were designed for inclusion in this historic commission and serve as one of the early innovations of modern bentwood furniture.   For these chairs, Aalto created a harmony of concave and convex bends both in the chair seat and independent frame.


According the Artek archives, the current lot is an early production example executed in curly birch as a special edition.  Due to difficulty in obtaining the material and production complications less than twenty examples are known to have been made.